Many people come to the USA every year in the hope of working and living there and with the ultimate long-term goal of securing citizenship.
There are really only two ways you can be a U.S. Citizen. You are either born here or you obtain citizenship through naturalization.
To be granted U.S. citizenship by naturalization, there are eligibility criteria that need to be met.
The naturalization process
The Department for Homeland Security describes naturalization as the “process by which U.S. Citizenship is granted to a foreign citizen or national after he or she fulfills the requirements established by Congress in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).”
Once citizenship is granted, it affords the individual all the rights and protections of any other U.S. citizen.
To apply for naturalization, you need to meet the following criteria:
- Have held a Green Card for at least five years, or three years if you’re the spouse of a US citizen and demonstrate that you’ve been continuously residing in the US for this period
- Be 18 years old at the time of filing
- You must have been physically present in the US for at least 30 months, and
- You need to show that you’ve been living in the state where you are claiming residence for the last 3 months
In addition to the above, there are other criteria you’ll need to be aware of. For example, you’ll be asked to take a naturalization test. You’ll be asked to demonstrate that you can read, write and speak English as well as have a good understanding of US history and government. You’ll also be asked to show that you intend to support and defend the United States by taking an Oath of Allegiance.
Applying for citizenship in the United States can be complicated, especially when English is not your first language. Working with someone who understands how immigration laws work can give you the best chance of success.